While most people look to France to set the standard on the best fashion, anyone who has visited the country knows that French makeup is just as worth emulating. Makeup styles and trends in France are unlike anywhere else. First of all, French makeup is very high quality. Almost every French makeup brand is very invested in using only the best natural ingredients. Second, the way that French people apply makeup is very specific. There are a number of application techniques that French people have created to get a natural, subtle glow.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the best kept secrets of French makeup from French beauty icons like Charlotte Gainsbourg and cult makeup-favorites creator Terry de Gunzburg. And we’ll tell you where to find the best French makeup brands and how to integrate them into your beauty routine. From cleansers to the perfect red lip, INSIDR has got you covered!
8 French makeup secrets from French Beauty icons!
1- Cleanse your face
Skincare is key! Expert makeup artists will tell you that “skin is 50% of makeup”. The golden rule is to never go to bed with makeup on. Make sure to wash away all the makeup with a great cleanser. According to BY TERRY‘s founder Terry de Gunzburg, “Morning or evening, I always wash my face. A proper skincare regimen is the key to beautiful skin.”
Also any French woman will tell you that a great makeup look begins with amazing skin. French musician Vanessa Paradis adds that “sleep, water, and fun” are the essential ingredients for great skin. Trust the experts! The ultimate beauty goal of every French woman is to make sure that her skin is as clear and luminous as possible so that they don’t need very much makeup to look absolutely amazing.
2- Protect your skin
A good French makeup routine always starts with great sun protection. French actress and Chanel ambassador Anna Mouglalis says “I hate to expose myself and yet, I love the sun… I know how to protect my skin when it is necessary“. SPF is an essential part of your skincare, and not just during the summer months. Many French women will tell you that an SPF is necessary all year around to keep your skin protected and youthful. However, you can’t put just any sunscreen on your face. The skin on your face is more sensitive than any other skin on your body so it’s needs a more delicate sunscreen. La Roche Posay Anthelios sunblock is developed for sensitive skin and won’t clog your pores. Make sure to re-apply to your face every 80 minutes for the best protection!
3- Make sure skin and lips are always moisturized
According to French supermodel Cindy Bruna, “before starting on makeup, the most important thing is moisturizing”. Moisturizing the face is as essential as protecting it from sun exposure. Moisturizing not only creates a soft and silky base for your makeup but also helps prevent wrinkles and strengthens the skin. The same goes for your lips. A great lip balm will help protect your lips from drying out and add an extra layer of protection from the elements. French makeup tip: once your makeup is done, apply a bit of your moisturizer on top of your cheekbones and temples for an extra dewy glow.
4- Use products that target your “problem-areas”
Of course, great skincare takes more than a good moisturizer and sunscreen. The French are passionate about skincare and are dedicated to French skincare brands. Finding the right products for you means knowing your skin type and your “problem-areas”. Whether its for acne, uneven skin-tone, or delaying ageing signs, you’ll find something. Making a visit to a French pharmacy while you’re in the country is a great way to have your skin evaluated and to learn which French makeup and skincare products are best for your skin type. The best thing about it? These pharmacy brand products won’t break the bank. Check out our top 20 skincare products to buy in France to know the favorites of French women.
5- Seek for a natural finish
To many French women, the premise of wearing makeup is about highlighting natural beauty without masking the imperfections. Just take beloved French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg‘s word for it. According to her, “I use pigments to hide dark circles, redness, pimples … But I do not forget that these imperfections also reveal an emotion. What I find rather charming in a woman.” A great concealer can be used to highlight and contour the face while also correcting hyperpigmentation and under-eye bags.
6- It’s a balancing act
When building your makeup look, it’s all about keeping it simple. Neutral colours, soft lines, and a light hand make for the perfect French makeup look. French actress Juliette Binoche says smoky eyes plus a nude lip make for the perfect evening look. Blend your favorite dark brown, black, or midnight blue shade from your eyeline outward then add a touch of highlight to the inner corner of your eye for a less-heavy look. For a different style, try French it girl Jeanne Damas’s signature french makeup: red lips, big messy brows and no eye makeup. It’s a soft yet sophisticated look that epitomizes the French makeup aesthetic.
7- Accentuate the eyes
The most traditional French makeup look is also the simplest. Most French women don’t wear eyeshadow, foundation, or bold lipstick on a daily basis. A classic French makeup look includes, a coat of mascara, a bit of concealer, and lip balm or a nude lip color. The most important thing is to accentuate the eyes. At the very least, curling the eyelashes brings attention to the eyes without using any makeup. On a night out, they simply add a bit of smudged eyeliner and highlighter for a more sexy look. Simple, clean, and sophisticated. We love what French singer and actress Vanessa Paradis has to say about this: “The detail that makes you sure of yourself? Coal black eyes.”
8- Bring attention to your lips
No guide to French makeup would be complete without discussing the iconic red lip. The French girl way to rock a red lip is to make it the center of your look. Adding just a touch of mascara or no eye makeup at all turns red lipstick into a statement. French YouTube sensation Violette Serrat’s advice when it comes to wearing a red lipstick is to wear it with messy hair and an effortless outfit like jeans and some heels to get the French look down.
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French Makeup Secrets: 5 Must-have products
By this point in our guide, we have already stressed out just how important wearing concealer is to the French makeup routine. As for the perfect concealer, we recommend BY TERRY‘s Stylo Expert Click Stick concealer. This all-in-one concealer offers easy and precise touch-ups thanks to its advanced, ergonomic applicator. It just simply delivers its promise of correcting, contouring, and highlighting the skin and face. No wonder it has raked in so many awards and rave reviews from make-up lovers all over.
Blush is another essential part of makeup for getting color on your face! Makeup artists swear by applying blush on the high points of the face as well as a little under the chin for a bright, natural glow. It’s a makeup trick that that supermodels like Kate Moss and Cindy Crawford have been applying since the 90s. An affordable option we recommend is L’Oreal’s Perfect Match Le Blush in shade rose santal.
3- A lightweight foundation
If you must wear foundation, pick a lightweight one that will mimic the texture and shade of your skin. It’s for this reason that French women have fallen in love with BY TERRY’s Cellularose Moisturizing CC Cream. It’s actually a tinted moisturizer that has a supple and elastic texture. We love that it provides lightweight coverage but has a powdery satin finish! If you’re not quite sure which shade suits you, pop by the BY TERRY boutique at Galerie Véro Dodat for a free makeup consultation with their experts!
A great mascara is an cornerstone of a great French makeup look. Chiaria Mastroianni recommends using only a small amount of mascara on the lashes. Clumped and heavy lashes don’t carry a lot of appeal. She loves wearing a light mascara with an pencil eyeliner which she smudges into her lash line for a cinematic look. It’s dramatic and sexy without trying too hard.
5- Red lipstick
Jeanne Damas advises applying lipstick with your fingertip for a melted-in effect. The cult favorite Ruby Woo from MAC is fail-safe. It has a super soft, rich formula that effortlessly melts into the skin. The best budget alternative for lips would be Sephora’s cream lip stain in shade Always Red.
French makeup secrets: What NOT to do
Wear heavy powder foundation on a regular day
One thing you’ll never see a French woman do is wear a heavy foundation or powder. Anything that dulls or masks the natural skin is off-limits. Having a great skincare routine and sticking to it is the best way to get skin that doesn’t need makeup. Even if your skin isn’t perfect—and let’s face it, nobody’s skin is—it’s better to just wear a touch of concealer and moisturizer than to go out wearing a full coverage foundation. Whatever makeup you choose, make sure to use products that are right for your skin type. If you do so, you won’t need a lot to look your best.
Contour too much with a bronzer
Another French makeup faux-pas is being heavy-handed on contouring. This makeup technique can be hard to master at first but one should always keep in mind not to outline too much. Too much outlining can result from a poor technique and poor quality of bronzer. Make sure to find the right balance between carving the face and bringing out the light on its highest points.
Apply eyeshadow using only a brush
If there’s anything we’ve learned about methodically applying eyeshadow, it’s that your fingers are great tools. While brushes are great especially for applying powder eyeshadow, you’ll have better control by using your fingertips to blend. You can simply put eyeshadow directly your on eyelids and dab it with your finger. For a smoky eye effect, apply it as closely as you can to your lash line. Then, smudge with your index finger. If you’re planning on taking your look from day to night, make sure to wear a primer.
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